Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2022

AAPI 2022


My name is Som Mongtin and I am Laotian and Tai Yai.

What you do at DMACC: Pathway Navigator for the Workforce Training Academy

One cultural tradition that is important to you: Lunar New Year tradition is important to me, because it's a time for us to clear any negative energy from the past and prepare for blessings in the new year.

Why is it important for us to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month: Asian Americans have helped to build and continue to build our communities. It's important to continue to recognize the contributions of Asians and Asian Americans and celebrate past, current, and future successes. While there are opportunities every day to learn about Asian American heritage, the month of May provides a reminder to reflect on what we know and what we have left to learn.

If you could share one thing about your AAPI Heritage, what would it be: Food centers all traditions. From celebrations to healing, food is a tradition that showcases the unique aspects of my culture and family. I recently gifted a friend the book "From Mothers to Mothers: A Collection of Traditional Asian Postpartum Recipes" and we felt even more connected to each other. We grew up with different lived experiences across the country, but shared stories of how our parents had talked about this recipe to help heal after surgery and that recipe when we were celebrating a big accomplishment. I love that food is a common language among all ethnicities.

Favorite movie, food, or place to visit: Favorite places to eat: Taste Place (Ames), Rolling Wok (on Grand), Nut Pob, Eatery A, and food court food. I love the various options and that I can mix and match to make my own meal with appetizers, entrees, drinks, and dessert. The Merle Hay Mall food court is an easy place to mix and match delicious and local food.




My name is Erin Kim Cho. I was born in South Korea. My background is unique because I came to the US in 3rd grade due to my father going to graduate school. I came here knowing A, B and C. After spending about 8 years in the US, I went back to Korea to finish high school and college. Eight years of studying in Korea led to graduate school in the US. With my experience living in two very different countries, I consider myself as a "hybrid" because I see myself as both Korean and American. I speak both languages fluently, enjoy Korean and American traditions, and consider both countries as my home.

What you do at DMACC: I teach Fundamentals of Oral Communication courses at DMACC as an adjunct professor.

. I have taught for the speech department since 2018. Currently, I am a fulltime professor at Grand View University but I continue to teach during the summer for DMACC because I enjoy teaching DMACC students so much. The speech department faculty has also been my mentors throughout my academic journey.

One cultural tradition that is important to you: There are a lot of Korean traditions I value. One is "Parents' Day." In Korea, we don't have a separate Mother's Day and Father's Day. We celebrate mothers and fathers (grandparents, etc) on May 8th to honor and celebrate them to recognize the important role they played in nurturing and raising children. In Korea, this is a national holiday. We also have "Childrens' Day" on May 5th each year as a national holiday to celebrate children.

Why is it important for us to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month: AAPI Heritage Month helps us to celebrate and honor the diverse contributions many AAPI individuals have made throughout our history. But most importantly, it is a month to speak up, share stories, and confront hate against AAPI communities. This year’s theme is “Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration.” I am glad to see a lot of movement within our communities to collaborate together.

Favorite movie, food, or place to visit: In my free time, I love to watch Korean dramas, eat good food, and travel with my family.




My name is Sweenersoe Thako and I was born in a refugee camp in Thailand. My parents are originally from Burma/Myanmar. Due to the ongoing civil war, they fled Burma when they were young and came to Thailand to seek refuge. Burma is quite diverse, and I belong to an ethnicity called Karen (Pronounced Ka-REN). I identify as Karen and am proud of my heritage. I grew up in Thailand in a refugee camp and lived there for 24 years. I came to United States as a refugee in 2007.

What you do at DMACC: I am a Student Services Specialist at DMACC Urban Campus. I help students with Admissions, Financial Aid, and Student Account related issues.

One cultural tradition that is important to you: Our annual wrist tying ceremony. It’s a symbol of reunion, unity, and forgiveness. At this event the community comes together as a whole, and it fends off evil spirits so we can all live free from fear.

Why is it important for us to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month: Since we live in the age of technology and the world is quickly getting more and more diverse, we can easily lose our heritage. As an Asian American I think it’s important to share with other people who we are and where we come from. It’s also important to pass our heritage along to younger generations so they continue to celebrate our unique culture, which we’ve carried on and celebrated for centuries.

If you could share one thing about your AAPI Heritage what would it be: Embracing hospitality and respect.

Favorite movie, food, or place to visit: Karen-style porridge




My name is Saem Parry. I was born in South Korea and grew up there until I was 15 years old. Then I came to the United States to study. Even though I've made the US my home, I still have close connection to South Korea where my parents and relatives live.

What you do at DMACC: I teach ELL classes to students whose first language is not English. My personal experience as an English language learner motivated me to become an ELL instructor.

One cultural tradition that is important to you: Korean Thanksgiving (Chu Seok) usually falls in early fall months (September or October) according to the Lunar Calendar. When I think of Korean Thanksgiving, a touch of a cool fall breeze and the abundance of harvested crops come to my mind. As close family relationship is important in Korea, Korean Thanksgiving is usually a time when you get together with relatives and share food.

Why is it important for us to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been an integral part of the United States for many years, and along the way, have experienced a fair share of racial discrimination. It is important for us to re-visit the history of AAPIs in the US, especially in light of the increase in crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which ramped up at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As we celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, we should be mindful of the fact that AAPI is not a monolithic group. The term AAPI covers a group of people living on the largest continent in the world with great diversity. It is important to recognize that AAPI represents people with a rich diversity and complexity of culture within itself. We should acknowledge the shared accomplishments and challenges this diverse group of people bring to the United States, and celebrate the variety they bring to our diverse culture. It should be emphasized that AAPIs put a lot of effort into not only holding on to the traditions and culture of origin but also working to adapt to the unique blend of culture in their new home.

If you could share one thing about your AAPI Heritage what would it be: It is difficult to pin down on one specific thing, but cultural values such as hard-working, self-discipline, and modesty have greatly influenced the person who I am today. These values have motivated me to continuously improve myself toward achieving my goals.

Favorite movie, food, or place to visit: I like trying street food wherever I travel to. I feel like street food is a convenient way to experience a wide range of authentic flavors. Street food is also accessible to people from different economic backgrounds. The casual atmosphere of street food stalls is great for having conversation with new and interesting people as well.

I love watching movies and TV shows that are set in international settings. I enjoy observing the scenery and cultural distinctions in the ways characters interact. I also relish in listening to different languages as I watch movies and TV shows.

Whenever I travel in the US or overseas, I love visiting old religious temples / churches and small villages where traditional architecture is still intact. When I visit these places, I get a glimpse of the past in the areas and get insight on local people of past and present.




Hello, my name is Jason Hubbartt and I identify as biracial consisting of native Hawaiian/Korean and half German heritage. I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and moved to Iowa to be with my German family when I was 3 years old. I was raised very German with traditional values and morals, including, amazing German food to grow up on!

What you do at DMACC: I am an adjunct lecturer in the human services department.

Right now I am teaching two rotating classes at DMACC such as Discrimination & Diversity, and Addictive Disease Concepts. However, I have been teaching at various universities and graduate schools for almost 10 years mainly focusing in counseling psychology and human services.

It is very important that we recognize and celebrate AAPI Heritage month as it brings awareness and attention to a marginalized community that still faces daily discrimination, oppression, and violence in this great nation. On a positive note; AAPI heritage month allows AAPI-identified members to share their experiences and cultural traditions to break down assumptions and stereotypes to help educate the general public about our similarities and the value that all people bring to the world.

Lastly a fun fact about me; I am a Star Wars geek and have my whole office decorated in star wars, I have a rescue cat that has her own Instagram page, I do extreme hiking and camping at remote locations, and I have a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle where I have done cross-country rides.